Myanmar Appoints UN Rep. as Fifth Female Ambassador

By San Yamin Aung 21 October 2019

YANGON—Myanmar appointed Daw Hmway Hmway Khyne as its ambassador to Italy on Monday, making her the country’s third female ambassador since the National League for Democracy (NLD) government came to power in 2016.

Before her appointment by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, Daw Hmway Hmway Khyne was Myanmar’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

On Oct. 9, the then-UN representative made a statement in New York in response to the proposed budget for the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, saying that the program was redundant and that spending the UN’s scarce resources on further mechanisms of “questionable impartiality” will not “solve the problem,” referring to the Rakhine State and Rohingya crises.

She said that at least seven UN mechanisms focusing on Myanmar, including the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission and the Special Rapporteur, have resulted in “countless one-sided biased reports full of sensational narratives” and that “many of them went far beyond their mandates and demonstrated hostility towards the democratically-elected government and the peace-loving people of Myanmar.”

Daw Hmway Hmway Khyne called for an end to the practice of “wasting” time and resources on “duplicate, unjustifiable and discriminatory mechanisms for a single member country” and to instead use the resources to “complement the ongoing efforts for repatriation,” referring to the Rohingya in Bangladesh, though not by name.

Myanmar had its first-ever female ambassador in 1960 when Daw Khin Kyi, the late mother of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, was appointed to serve as the head of the country’s diplomatic mission to India. She later served concurrently as ambassador to Nepal before retiring in 1967.

But in the four decades following, under the rule of military regimes, the country saw no more female ambassadors until the quasi-civilian government led by U Thein Sein appointed Daw Yin Yin Myint as ambassador to Brunei in 2012. She now serves as ambassador to Germany. The U Thein Sein government subsequently appointed Daw Maw Maw as ambassador to Norway in 2015.

The NLD government appointed women as ambassadors to Indonesia and the Czech Republic in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Union Parliament lawmaker Daw Zin Mar Aung said she is glad to see the gradual rise of female ambassadors.

“I hope women’s participation in politics will only continue to be on the rise and so do a number of women lawmakers,” Daw Zin Mar Aung said.

In the 2010 election, women won less than 5 percent of seats in Parliament. In the 2015 election, the number of elected women lawmakers nearly tripled. As for the heads of government ministries, however, Myanmar has only appointed four women as ministers since 1920.

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